The evolutionary context of the first hominins

  title={The evolutionary context of the first hominins},
  author={Bernard A. Wood and Terry Harrison},
The relationships among the living apes and modern humans have effectively been resolved, but it is much more difficult to locate fossil apes on the tree of life because shared skeletal morphology does not always mean shared recent evolutionary history. Sorting fossil taxa into those that belong on the branch of the tree of life that leads to modern humans from those that belong on other closely related branches is a considerable challenge. 

Elusive cranium of early hominin found

  • F. Spoor
  • Environmental Science, Geography
  • 2019
A 3.8-million-year-old hominin fossil reveals what the cranium of the oldest known Australopithecus species looked like, casting doubt on assumptions about how these ancient relatives of humans

Human Evolution: Early Radiations

Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis are adaptively and cladistically closer to this early hominin radiation than they are to later Homo taxa.

Neither chimpanzee nor human, Ardipithecus reveals the surprising ancestry of both

In the context of accumulating evidence from genetics, developmental biology, anatomy, ecology, biogeography, and geology, Ardipithecus alters perspectives on how the authors' earliest hominid ancestors—and their closest living relatives—evolved.

Out of Africa I: The First Hominin Colonization of Eurasia

”For over two-thirds of our evolutionary history, from our divergence from chimpanzees more than 6 million years ago, until as recently as 2 million years ago, hominins were an endemic African group.

Out of Africa I: The First Hominin Colonization of Eurasia

”For over two-thirds of our evolutionary history, from our divergence from chimpanzees more than 6 million years ago, until as recently as 2 million years ago, hominins were an endemic African group.

Estimating origination times from the early hominin fossil record

  • R. BobeB. Wood
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Evolutionary anthropology
  • 2021
Estimating confidence intervals on the first appearance records of the earliest potential hominins, as well as of the genera Australopithecus, Homo, and Paranthropus, to better evaluate patterns of hominin diversity, turnover, and potential correlations with climatic and environmental changes.

Towards a prehistory of primates

In this pioneering review, the author explores distinctions among chimpanzees in ecology, diet and innovation, sets a wider agenda for a prehistory of primates and explains how archaeology could serve it.

Phylogenetic analysis of Middle-Late Miocene apes

Temporal ranges and ancestry in the hominin fossil record: The case of Australopithecus sediba

In attempting to resolve the phylogenetic relationships of fossil taxa, researchers can use evidence from two sources – morphology and known temporal ranges. For most taxa, the available evidence is



Apes Among the Tangled Branches of Human Origins

To appreciate the place of A. ramidus in human origins, it must be viewed from the perspective of the hominoids (apes) that lived in the Miocene, 23 to 5 million years ago.

Reconstructing human evolution: Achievements, challenges, and opportunities

  • B. Wood
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2010
The evidence that has resolved the branching structure of the higher primate part of the tree of life and the substantial body of fossil evidence for human evolution are reviewed.

A new hominid from the Upper Miocene of Chad, Central Africa

The discovery of six hominid specimens from Chad, central Africa, 2,500 km from the East African Rift Valley, suggest that the earliest members of the hominids clade were more widely distributed than has been thought, and that the divergence between the human and chimpanzee lineages was earlier than indicated by most molecular studies.

How reliable are human phylogenetic hypotheses?

  • M. CollardB. Wood
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 2000
It is found that the phylogenetic hypotheses based on the craniodental data were incompatible with the molecular phylogenies for the groups, the hominoids and papionins, and new approaches are required to address the problem of hominin phylogeny.

Orrorin tugenensis Femoral Morphology and the Evolution of Hominin Bipedalism

Femoral morphology indicates that Orrorin tugenensis shared distinctive hip biomechanics with australopiths, suggesting that this complex evolved early in human evolution and persisted for almost 4 million years until modifications of the hip appeared in the late Pliocene in early Homo.

The robust australopithecine face: a morphogenetic perspective.

The robust australopithecines were a side branch of human evolution. They share a number of unique craniodental features that suggest their monophyletic origin. However, virtually all of these traits

Morphometrics and hominoid phylogeny: Support for a chimpanzee-human clade and differentiation among great ape subspecies.

Three-dimensional landmark data from the hominoid temporal bone effectively quantify the shape of a complex element of the skull and reveal the potential for geometric morphometric analysis to shed light on phylogenetic relationships.

Interpreting the past : essays on human, primate, and mammal evolution in honor of David Pilbeam

This volume, published in honor of David Pilbeam's 65th birthday, covers major topics in human, primate, and mammalian evolution, mostly from the Miocene to the present, and explores the epistemological problems of how one interprets the past from the available data.

Late Miocene hominids from the Middle Awash, Ethiopia

New hominid specimens from the Middle Awash area of Ethiopia that date to 5.2–5.8 Myr and are associated with a wooded palaeoenvironment are reported, indicating that Ardipithecus was phylogenetically close to the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans.